Viktor Afanasyev (politician)

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File:Espionage den04 33.png
A Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) document about Afansayev seized from the US Embassy in Tehran in 1979 by Iranian students

Viktor Grigoryevich Afanasyev (Russian: Ви́ктор Григо́рьевич Афана́сьев; 18 November 1922[1] – 10 April 1994) was a Soviet public figure, remembered for his work as a philosophy academic, politician, and news editor. Afanasyev was editor-in-chief (1974-1975) of the journal Kommunist and deputy editor (1968–1974) and editor-in-chief (1976–1989) of Pravda.

Moderately critical of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and still more so of rising independent politician Boris Yeltsin in his capacity as editor, Afanasyev was dismissed from his high position at Pravda after a period of falling circulation and a negative official reaction to the newspaper's highlighting Boris Yeltsin's troubles with alcohol during the Gorbachev administration in 1989 and spent the remaining half-decade of his life working for the national Academy of Sciences in Moscow.


Early life

Born in 1922 in Aktanysh in the Tatar ASSR (now Russia's Republic of Tatarstan) in 1922, Afanasyev joined the Red Army in 1940 and served with the Soviet paratroopers in the 1940s and World War II, remaining in the armed forces until 1953. He was awarded his first university degree for his independent completion of the required curriculum of the Chita Pedagogical Institute in Chita, Zabaykalsky Krai while still serving in the Soviet military.

Academic and public figure

Afanasyev first became a professional instructor upon leaving the Soviet Army in 1953 and continued concentrate his professional interest on teaching and administrative appointments in academia into the 1960s and 1970s. His appointments during this period included teaching as an instructor in Soviet Marxist theory at the Chelyabninsk Pedogagical Institute and a position with the philosophical branch of the Academy of Social Sciences of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. He authored a range of papers and books on philosophical subjects in the 1960s and 1970s. His dissertation for a Doktor nauk degree, a work concerned with issues pertinent to both philosophy and biology on a theoretical level, was accepted in 1964.

Afanasyev was elected a corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in 1972 and advanced to become a full member in 1981.[2] He was elected to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1976.[2]

Afanasyev became deputy editor of Pravda (a newspaper given the prestige of serving as the "official voice of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union") in 1968. He remained as deputy editor with Pravda until joining the Kommunist (regarded as the theoretical and political organ of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union) for a brief period as chief editor in 1974-1975. He returned to become chief editor of Pravda in 1975, remaining with the newspaper in the same capacity until 1989.

Afanasyev was a Deputy (representative) of the Supreme Soviet of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, serving from 1974 to 1979. He was twice elected as a Deputy of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union, serving from 1979 to 1989.

As Pravda editor

Afansyev's period as editor of Pravda saw a lukewarm response to Mikhail Gorbachev's changes in the late 1980s, vacillating between support for Gorbachev's policies and for those of his opponents in the leading circles of the party, while Pravda's readership witnessed a precipitous decline, dropping by around half in the course of Gorbachev's first four years at the helm of the Soviet Union.[3]

A TIME story of October 1989 also recalled that Afanasyev "suffered a nasty embarrassment last month, when Pravda reprinted a lurid dispatch from an Italian newspaper claiming that reformist Supreme Soviet Deputy Boris Yeltsin boozed and shopped his way through a tour of the U.S."[3] The report noted that the newspaper was pressured into publishing an apology, although recorded video subsequently broadcast over the Soviet television "appeared to show Yeltsin at least mildly intoxicated."[3]

Afanasyev was dismissed in favor of Gorbachev ally Ivan Frolov under the guise of requesting a "transfer to scientific work" during the subsequent fallout.[3] He spent the remaining half-decade of his life absorbed in work for the Academy of Sciences of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (the Russian Academy of Sciences since 1991).

He died in Moscow in 1994.


Afanasyev was well-recognized for his service by the Soviet state: among the honors awarded him were two Orders of the October Revolution.[2] He was a laureate of the USSR State Prize in 1983.[4]

A thirty-six page work devoted to the achievements of Afanasyev's life was published by the Institute of Socio-Political Research of the Russian Academy of Sciences in 2002, in honor of what would have been Afanasyev's 80th birthday.[4]


  1. "Afanasyev, Viktor Grigoryevich". Who Was Who in America, 1993-1996, vol. 11. New Providence, N.J.: Marquis Who's Who. 1996. p. 2. ISBN 0837902258.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Афанасьев Виктор Григорьевич" ("Afanasyev, Viktor Grigoryevich"). Большая Советская Энциклопедия (The Great Soviet Encyclopedia), Third Edition. Ed. Alexander Prokhorov. Moscow: Soviet Encyclopedia, 1978. (Russian)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Doerner, William R., and John Kohan. "Soviet Union: Dear Editor: You're Fired. Signed, Mikhail Gorbachev". TIME Magazine. 30 October 1989. Retrieved 18 December 2009.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "В. Брюсова. Личность. Ученый. Педагог. Журналист. К 80-летию со дня рождения В.Г. Афанасьева". ("V. Bryusova. Public Figure. Scholar. Academic. Journalist. In Honor of the 80th Anniversary of the Birth of V. G. Afanasyev".) Institute of Socio-Political Research of the Russian Academy of Sciences. 2002. Retrieved 22 December 2009. (Russian)